Press TV's news headlines

Here are the latest top stories from Press TV on March 5, 2021. 

Pope Iraq visit

Pope Francis has left Italy for a historic trip to Iraq. This is the first visit by a pontiff to the country. The Pope left Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport for a four-day trip to Iraq. He is due to meet Iraq's top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Pope Francis will visit four Iraqi cities including Mosul which was the former stronghold of the Daesh terror group. Inside Iraq, security has been beefed up to welcome the Pope. He will return to Rome on Monday morning. Back in 2019, the Pope inaugurated a new phase of interfaith dialogue between the Roman Church and Islam. 

EU vaccine export row

The Australian prime minister says the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in his country remains unaffected after Italy stopped export of 250,000 doses to Australia. Morrison said he understood Italy's decision to block the export. Italy has cited delays in vaccine supplies by both AstraZeneca and Pfizer as the reason for its decision. Meanwhile, France says it could join Italy and block shipments abroad of Covid-19 vaccines. Europe is one of the regions hardest-hit by the pandemic. The continent began a mass vaccination program in early January. But it has been slowed down mainly because of pharmaceutical companies’ failure to meet their obligations. 

Hong Kong election overhaul

China says it will resolutely guard against and deter any interference by external forces in the affairs of Hong Kong and Macau. Li said Beijing will stay true to the "one country, two systems" policy that grants the two regions special treatment. He added China will support both Hong Kong and Macau with the aim of improving their economies. The Chinese premier was addressing the annual session of the National People's Congress where a draft law was proposed to tighten the vetting process of Hong Kong’s legislative candidates. Beijing said the overhaul of the city’s electoral system aims to ensure that only patriots will be in charge. On Taiwan, the Chinese prime minister said his country will resolutely deter any separatist activity aimed at independence.

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